We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

What is the fundamental difference between church indulgences and emission allowances? Primarily it is that critics of allowances are not burned at the stake. Presumably because it would cause too many emissions. Otherwise, however, it is the same idea.

Luboš Zálom

The end of the affair

UPDATE 7.30pm BST, 6/7/22: Et tu, Brute? ‘Boris Johnson latest: Nadhim Zahawi leads cabinet call for PM to go’, the Times reports. Zahawi was given the job of Chancellor by Boris a little over twenty-four hours ago. This is better than Game of Thrones. Oops, my bad, the Times headline changed a few seconds after I posted the link. Now it says Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, has “joined her cabinet colleagues Grant Shapps, Nadhim Zahawi, Michael Gove and Simon Hart in calling for his resignation.”

UPDATE 7pm BST, 5/7/22: The Tory MP who spoke to Tom Swarbrick of “the final hours and days of this Government” was not kidding. The Wikipedia entries for Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid are changing minute by minute.

Original post from this morning follows:

‘Downing Street claim Boris forgot about FCDO investigation into Pincher’ – Guido Fawkes:

This afternoon’s press briefing has just wrapped up, having started over half an hour late. It was a disaster. The briefing opened with a question for the ages: “Are you planning on telling truth today?”. Downing Street spokesperson Max Blain responded with “in short, yes…”

The new line from No.10, it seems, is that Boris simply “forgot” about the upheld claims against Pincher from 2019 when the scandal first broke last week, only to miraculously remember at some point in the last 24 hours – when, exactly, is not clear. When pressed to confirm if that was true, Blain insisted it was “broadly” correct. Either way, it doesn’t appear he told Deputy PM Dominic Raab about this sudden recollection before sending him out onto the media round this morning…

LBC radio presenter Tom Swarbrick says, ‘A Tory MP gets in touch: “We are eeking out the final hours and days of this Government. We aren’t talking about weeks or months”’. Speaking as someone who misspelled “siege” as “seige” in a post title a couple of days ago, I am in no position to get snippy (when did that ever stop me?), but the present participle of the verb “to eke out” is “eking out” not “eeking out”. Never mind. The only possible comment is “EEEEEK!!!”

Is it Sir Keir Starmer’s hour to shine then? Maybe not. Also from Guido: ‘In the last month the implied probability of Keir Starmer resigning as Labour leader this year has risen from under 10% to over 30% as gamblers increasingly believe the Durham Police investigation could go badly for Starmer.’

If Starmer quits the political stage, he will do so having done something that makes the prospect of a Labour government a lot more palatable for many: ‘Starmer ends Labour silence on Brexit as he rules out rejoining single market’, the Guardian reports. Does he make this commitment to respect the result of the referendum out of principle? Of course not – he has ratted twice, once when he said, “The referendum is clear and has to be accepted. We can’t have a re-run of the question which was put to the country”, then jumped on the People’s Vote bandwagon as soon as it became temporarily popular, and again when, as Diane Abbott correctly observed, he dropped every single one of the 10 pledges he made in 2020 to get elected [Labour] leader. The pledges were insane, but even so, his abandoning his previous promises with such ease causes me to doubt any future ones he might make.

What times!

What next?

UPDATE: What next? This! Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid resign as Boris Johnson apologises for Chris Pincher ‘mistake’ – from the Guardian‘s “UK politics live” thread.

The law will find you eventually, evildoer (bin crime edition)

I was arrested & thrown in cell by cops for putting rubbish bags next to my bins EIGHT YEARS ago – the Sun.

A MUM-of-two claims she was arrested and thrown in a cell by police for putting rubbish bags next to her bins eight years ago.

Heather Underwood says she was “shaken” when cops came knocking with a warrant on Thursday morning over the 2014 incident.

The 32-year-old was taken to a custody suite where she was told she had left several black bags next to the bins at her old house.

She was then kept in a locked cell for four hours before finally being told the case had been discontinued.

The charge was for fly-tipping, but Ms Underwood says that at that time in 2014 she had only just moved into the property and found the bins already filled by the previous tenants, so she put her own rubbish in bags next to them. It never occurred to her that this was not allowed, let alone an offence that would be pursued for eight years.

Who is the Inspector Javert of Knutton, Staffordshire? Surely their devotion to duty should be recognised.

There, out in the darkness
A fugitive running
Fallen from God
Fallen from grace
God be my witness
I never shall yield
‘Til we come face to face
‘Til we come face to face

Unless… the Sun did let slip that this lady works as an OnlyFans model. I very much hope that had nothing to do with the police pulling her in.

“The most degrading part of it was when I had to use the bathroom and the toilet just had a glass window, I didn’t even have any privacy.”

The siege

“I’ve farmed this land my whole life. I won’t sell.”
“We’ll see about that, old man. We own the land all around yours. We control your water supply.”

A scene like this could have come from the trailer for a cowboy movie set during a ranch war, or perhaps for a film set in a future propertarian dystopia. I wouldn’t have guessed Cambridgeshire, 2022.

This series of tweets by the Fews Lane Consortium beginning with the words, “This is Clive’s farm. Clive has lived here his whole life” and later including the words,

To get rid of the groundwater that fills Clive’s well and that Clive uses to grow fruit, vegetables, and flowers, developers installed at least 800 underground well points and pumped the groundwater out of the ground near Clive’s farm.

describes a situation that reminds us that, although it is certainly true that the State is the prime oppressor, it is not the only oppressor. When I was first getting interested in libertarianism, I remember reading a lot about scenarios that were a challenge to it – e.g. where a property owner could inflict outrageous harm on another person without breaching the latter’s property rights – but as the years went by, the prime oppressor kept my outrage-tank filled and I’m afraid I largely stopped thinking about such things.

Perhaps I am off the hook. In the modern UK any question of land use inevitably involves the State, in the form of your friendly local council. This report from 2020 suggests that the developers might be hand in glove with the prime oppressor after all: “Cambridgeshire council ‘completely ignoring the law’ is taken to the High Court”:

The council [South Cambridgeshire District Council] is accused of having secret, unannounced meetings, from which no agenda or minutes are ever published, in violation of the Local Government Act 1972.

Another issue is that the council apparently announced a public consultation on a planning application, but then approved it anyway before the consultation had closed.

The council constitution is also allegedly being violated, but instead of rectifying the situation, the council has confirmed it intends to change the constitution, so it is no longer in violation of it.

and

The council has allegedly been acting in violation of this for at least two years by deciding whether to take the decision to the committee behind closed doors with just the chairman, vice-chairman, and a council officer in attendance.

The claims are being brought forward by the Fews Lane Consortium, a community group advocating for sustainable development around the villages, of which Mr Fulton is the director.

The decisions made by the council have had a damaging environmental impact too, according to the consortium.

I must also bear in mind that I have only heard one side of the story.

Nonetheless, I think that supporters of property rights should think about hard cases like Clive’s. What do you think about it?

This is the age of the fact checker

Politico on Twitter said,

Clarence Thomas claimed in a dissenting opinion that Covid vaccines are derived from the cells of “aborted children.”

No Covid vaccines in the U.S. contain the cells of aborted fetuses.

2,061 Retweets. 1,537 Quote Tweets. 5,676 Likes. Dozens of sneering replies.

And two egregious falsehoods in one tweet.

As Egon Alter (@AlterEgon75) put it in their reply,

This is a gross mischaracterization of Thomas’ words.

HE is not making the claim, the plaintiffs in the case are.

And he said they object because aborted fetus cells were used in the development of the vaccine, which your reporting verifies, not that the vaccine contains them.

UPDATE:

You can see a screenshot of Justice Thomas’s exact words in this tweet from AGHamilton29. Thomas said,

They object on religious grounds to all available COVID-19 vaccines because they were developed using cell lines derived from aborted children.

Firstly, note that he is paraphrasing the opinion of the petitioners, not giving his own opinion. Secondly, note that the petitioners themselves did not claim that the vaccines were made from aborted foetuses, they claim that foetal cells were used in the development process, which they were. As one would expect from a judge, Thomas has noted this crucial distinction.

Again via the estimable AGHamilton29, I see that it was not just Politico spreading this false story.

Axios: Clarence Thomas suggests COVID vaccines are made with “aborted children”

NBC News: Justice Thomas cites debunked claim that Covid vaccines are made with cells from ‘aborted children’

Of course, once the fake news seed is sown, it sprouts up everywhere.

The Daily Mail: Clarence Thomas cites debunked claim that Covid vaccines are created with cells of ‘aborted children’ in dissent on SCOTUS decision upholding New York state’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers

The Independent: Clarence Thomas wrongly suggests ‘aborted children’ cells are used in Covid vaccines

SECOND UPDATE: The Politico tweet has now been disappeared, and the story to which it linked corrected. It is now mostly accurate and completely pointless, a breathless account of a Supreme Court judge doing a normal part of his job.

Samizdata quote of the day

The fact that my views are considered controversial is a reflection of how mad society has become:

I want maths teachers to teach maths, history teachers to teach history, literature teachers to educate children about the best English writers, poets and playwrights.

I want the police to investigate actual crimes like rape, burglary, stabbings and muggings, not paint their cars rainbow colours and police jokes, banter in WhatsApp groups and offensive tweets.

I want the media to tell me the facts of what is going on and let me decide what to think about it. If I want a journalist’s opinion, which I mostly don’t, I’ll read opinion columns. Just tell me what’s happening.

I want banks to provide bank services, ice cream makers to make ice cream and razor companies to make razors. I want transnational corporations to pay their taxes. I don’t want them to tell me what to think – I don’t need a moral lecture from Mr Burns off the Simpsons.

I want doctors to help me *choose* the best treatment for me and my family, not enforce a one-size-fits-all solution on me because of Government diktats. I don’t need scary advertising campaigns that misrepresent the threat to encourage me to look after my health.

I want the military to spend every waking moment working to get better at killing people who want to kill me, my family and my fellow citizens. I don’t care how diverse, progressive or inclusive they are. And I am outright hostile to this if it affects performance. /6

I want the legal system to reward productive, lawful behaviour and deter unproductive, unlawful behaviour. I want psychopathic, evil and dangerous people to be kept away from me, my family and my fellow law-abiding citizens.

I want politicians to implement the democratic wishes of the people of this country, even when I don’t personally agree with them. If the majority of my fellow citizens vote for something I don’t agree with, I can campaign against this while accepting the democratic outcome.

I want Government to interfere in my life as little as possible, while recognising that Government is necessary. I want to pay as little tax as lawfully possible, but enough to fund the things only Government can do.

I want an absolute meritocracy. Hard work, dedication and talent must always be rewarded. If you are lazy, don’t apply yourself or aren’t contributing, you don’t deserve to be rewarded as much as people who work their arse off.

I want people to be treated equally. Not as inferior OR superior. Just equal. There is no such thing as positive discrimination, just discrimination.

Konstantin Kisin, who would be a truly splendid fellow but for the fact he dislikes Marmite.

Banishing the demon drink from Wales

My late mother-in-law used to tell a funny story about how, when she was a child in Wales during the 1930s, she was taken to the doctor. Her mother feared there must be something terribly wrong with her because she did not like tea. Why, she wouldn’t even take a cup with when the minister visited!

Wales is a different place now.

Sale of coffee and tea to under 16s could be banned in Wales

Samizdata quote of the day

Why do people outside USA give a damn about technical legal rulings regarding which tier of American government gets to make certain American laws? Particularly bizarre coming from people in countries with more restrictive abortion laws than Mississippi (France for example). I find that far more noteworthy than the underlying issue of abortion-in-America.

Not seen much concern overseas about UK’s horrendous Online Safety Bill, I guess folks too focused on cosplaying Americans and pretending changes in US laws will have any influence on long settled issues elsewhere.

– Perry de Havilland

It pays to argue against what your opponents actually believe

They say that the Earth’s magnetic poles swap places every few hundred thousand years.

“Roe v Wade: US Supreme Court ends constitutional right to abortion”, reports the BBC.

A miracle or a catastrophe, take your pick, but how did this happen after half a century in which Roe and Wade were the fixed poles by which the compass of the American abortion debate could be set? It is bad form for me to quote myself, but in this post, “How not to change minds on abortion”, I made the point about as well as I am ever likely to:

…in the US and the UK, the pro-choice side almost never engaged with what their opponents actually believed. Over the years I must have read hundreds of Guardian articles on abortion, mostly in its US section because abortion is such a live issue there. I do not recall a single one that argued against the main sticking point of the pro-life side, namely that abortion takes a human life – let alone argued for it. On other issues the Guardian would occasionally let the odd Conservative or other non-progressive have their say about fossil fuels or the nuclear deterrent or whatever, and would often feature writers who, while left wing themselves, at least knew enough of the right wing view to argue against it. However when it came to abortion the line always was, and judging from Twitter in the last few days, still is, that opposition to abortion arises (a) only from men and (b) only from men who wish to control women’s bodies.

It works, a bit. Some men who read that will decide that they do not want to be that sort of man, others will decide that they do not want to be thought to be that sort of man. But an argument that does not even acknowledge the existence of female opponents of abortion will obviously not change their minds. Nor will silence reassure women who are not firmly pro or anti. If the Left will not talk to them about their doubts, then by definition the only arguments they hear will come from the other side.

Related post: It pays to brief your own side properly. I might make a series of “It pays to…” posts.

Samizdata quote of the day

My Twitter is full of people angry about the insane cost of living increases while my LinkedIn is full of nerdy middle class engineers in safe, white collar jobs excitedly praising net zero policies and their role in building a “sustainable” future.

Tim Newman

Some thoughts on the Assange case

Julian Assange is on the verge (as he has been for ten years, but this time for real) of being extradited from the UK to the US. The question I ask is, has he done anything wrong?

If it were the case that he had supplied information that would have been useful to a hostile power then I would say hang the bastard. But that is not what the US government is accusing him of. The accusation is that he helped to steal the information. Now, if someone steals my stuff, I want them to have their hands cut off. Along with a few other appendages. But Assange “stole” information not stuff. And remember the US government is not claiming that that information would have been useful to a foreign power.

Which puts a rather different gloss on things. US government information is – if we are to take the US government’s own position seriously – owned by the US people. They have every right to see it. More or less. As well as military secrets there may be commercial contracts which – possibly – they don’t want to disclose. For instance, one of my frustrations in the UK was that you couldn’t inspect the contract of a Train Operating Company because it was deemed to be “commercially confidential”. Whatever, it doesn’t apply in this case.

So, it would appear that all Assange has done is to supply the US population with something it already owned and had every right to have.

Have I got that right?

Samizdata quote of the day

“The developed world’s response to the global energy crisis has put its hypocritical attitude toward fossil fuels on display. Wealthy countries admonish developing ones to use renewable energy. Last month the Group of Seven went so far as to announce they would no longer fund fossil-fuel development abroad. Meanwhile, Europe and the U.S. are begging Arab nations to expand oil production. Germany is reopening coal power plants, and Spain and Italy are spending big on African gas production. So many European countries have asked Botswana to mine more coal that the nation will more than double its exports.”

Bjorn Lomborg